Simon Foster – Swearing

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Gen 21

Abimelech and Abraham, first occurrence of this swearing.

SHABA – Links with Beersheba and “7”

Gen 22

16.And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17.That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18.And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Heb 6 comments on this passage and extra info on swearing.

13.For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

14.Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

15.And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

16.For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

Even though God swore here, the promise didn’t come about at this point.

God is the greatest, therefore as there was no greater he swore by himself.

v14 only picks out part of the Gen passage.

17.Where in God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

18.That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19.Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

20.Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The reason for the oath is that there is some relation to swearing.

Part of the reason is that it brings an end of strife…

Back in Gen 21, we can see this.

22.And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:

23.Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.

24.And Abraham said, I will swear.

Here, there is a confirming of the things they will with each other to ensure no strife.

Heb 7

12.For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

The immutability is the negative form of being changed in Heb 6. Used of Enoch in Heb 5. Indicating that there wouldn’t be a change… perhaps an end to strife.

This is for a strong confirmation and anchor to the soul.

Deu 1

8.Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.

34.And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,

35.Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,

Deu 6

13.Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There are many example of swearing by a name.

Other things that are sworn by…

covenant and mercy

Sometimes the swearing rises up, a bit like the dormancy we saw with looking at sleeping. There is a time that it will rise up.

Deu 11

21.That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

Perhaps this time delay illustrates the dormancy point.

Deu 31

7.And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

Partial fulfilment to be part of the swearing.

23.And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.

1 King 1 is riddled with the idea of swearing, all about Solomon taking over the throne from David.

Need to look at more about this.

Gen 24

Looking for a wife for Isaac.

6.And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.

7.The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

8.And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.

9.And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

There is a get out clause to the other, if the woman isn’t willing to come.

Gen 47

29.And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:

30.But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.

31.And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.

Summary so far…

Swearing is seen to be that when things that have been promised that would happen are either fulfilled or in the process of being fulfilled.

In the NT

James 5

12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Link between swearing and an oath. There are others…

Neither by heaven or by earth, links to Mat 5

Jesus is speaking and he refers to…

33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

34.But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither byJerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36.Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

In v34, “but I say unto you”, is possibly not right. The KJV takes this “de” word and translates it both “but” and “and”… “but” makes it sound contradictory to what has been said before. It should be “and”. This is extending the thing, adding to and putting a different light on it.

We have a binary conclusion given here. We should say “yes” or “no”

Mat 23

16. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!

17. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

18. And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

19. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

20. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

21. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.

22. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

Don’t fully grasp this, but there is a focus on the nuances of that the jews had been focussing on when swearing.

Other examples in the NT

The king offers his daughter anything and J the B has his head taken from him.

In Zec, talking about J the B in Luke 1

70. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

71. That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72.To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73.The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

74. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75.In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Mat 26

74.Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75.And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter swearing was meant to end the matter about him knowing Jesus.

Act 2

29.Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31.He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32.This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Perhaps a pun here?

In Acts 7

The promise is confirmed.

17. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,

Heb 7

17.For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

18.For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

19.For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of abetter hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20.And in as much as not without an oath he was made priest:

21.(For those those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22.By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23.And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24.But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

In summary..

Things sworn by God who is the greatest

Doesn’t have to be immediate

It confirms things for the future

A contract to end strife

We should say yes and no to mean just that

Just because something is sworn it can remain dormant until it is raised up


Gen 24

Drawing out a point of what swearing involves

3.And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven ,and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

We can see in v3 two forms.

Here at the beginning it is the causal form. Something is going to happen to the servant which Abraham will cause to happen.

The second is swearing “by” which we have seen.

It is more helpful to see that the word is “in” – I will swear IN.

The other common form that we see is passive. We lose this in the KJV.

7.The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

“And that was sworn unto me saying”

There are two parts to this passage.

There are two parties. One is causing the other. Abraham is going to make the servant swear, and therefore he is sworn.

There is no instance of this word being in the active form.

There are two parties, this is very important when understanding this.

Gen 21

Starting at v23, all the references are passive, but note the two parties.

“and now, be sworn to me”

v 24

“I will be sworn”


“they were sworn, them two”

Bring out the passive thing, pointing out that it is the partner to the causal form, highlights that it is between two parties, it isn’t one person alone.

Gen 47

It is like Gen 24

“be sworn to me”

“and he was sworn to him”

Jacob initiates this and tells Joseph what to do… and then Joseph is sworn.

It is the same pattern in Gen 50

5.My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.

6.And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

The causal part comes first.

Drawing this out, back into thinking about God being sworn….

Gen 22

15.And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16.And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17.That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18.And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

“I have been sworn” – passive.

Expounded in Heb, he swore by himself as there was no greater.

The other part to draw out, is thinking about God’s graciousness to Abraham. It is reflected in that there is no other part to this swearing.

The other party desires an outcome, eg, Abraham wants a wife for Isaac, or Joseph wants his bones removed from Egypt, therefore one causes the other to swear.

Here, with Yahweh, he just does it. “he was sworn” to these other things.

Abraham had struggled with a lack of seed for a long time….

Gen 17

15.And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

16.And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

17.Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

18.And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

19.And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

The rising which we noted earlier.

The events in Gen 22 are in response to Abraham’s desire for a seed to fulfil the promise. Abraham doesn’t ask God to swear to him, he doesn’t cause God to swear. Yahweh is just sworn in himself concerning the blessing.

There is a sense of great grace toward Abraham. The pattern is different here.

There is a direction of master/servant in the process. Here it is just God.